UPI Photo/Landov
December 15, 2009 07:45 AM

Family values got a strong endorsement from Tiger Woods last month – in a Nov. 17 interview taped in Melbourne at the time of Australian Masters, only days before the golfer’s world came crashing down with the very public exposure of his secret love life.

Airing Tuesday on New Zealand’s Sky Sport, the segment featured interviewer Murray Deaker posing the question: “Family first and golf second … always been that way?”

Woods’s reply: “Always. Always. It has been great actually. It has been the best thing that ever happened.”

Deaker suggested that family time meant time away from the links for the golfer, prompting Woods, 33, to say, “I don’t practice as much as I used to. I don’t spend the amount of hours on the golf course, not like I used to … But my focus is so much more intense than it used to be … I know whatever I have to get done [has to be done] in a shorter amount of time.”

Woods, who for the most part looks devoid of emotion throughout the interview (in clips shown on American TV), said it was his disciplinarian mother, Kultida, and not his father, Earl, who helped shape his personality.

“You’d think Dad, being a Special Forces operator, was the tough guy. No, he was always the softie,” Woods said, finally letting out a laugh. “My mom was tough.”

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Meanwhile, photos have surfaced of Woods’s wife, Elin Nordegren, not wearing her wedding ring when she was refilling her car at a Florida gas station, fueling speculation about the future of the couple’s marriage.

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